THE “GREEN JOBS” FANTASY: WHY THE ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICAL PROMISE

Volume 6 • Issue 31 •October 2013
THE “GREEN JOBS” FANTASY: WHY THE
ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL
REALITY CAN NEVER LIVE UP TO THE
POLITICAL PROMISE
Jennifer Winter and Michal C. Moore†
The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary
SUMMARY
Agriculture is one of the least “green” — that is, the least environmentally friendly — sectors in Canada, based
on its energy-use intensity and greenhouse gas emissions intensity. But agriculture is also the “greenest” sector
in Canada, according to one measure that calculates the proportion of “green employment” in various industries.
Welcome to the world of “green jobs,” where vague definitions often give energy-intensive, carbon-heavy
industries a “green” stamp of approval. Examples include companies making solar panels, but using large
volumes of energy to do so or where an accountant preparing financial returns is counted as a “green” worker
at one office, but turns instantly “dirty” should he cross the street to do the same accounting work at another
office. It is also a world where inefficient power generation is considered positive, if it means employing more
“green workers” per unit of power output, regardless of any negative effects that may have on the economy.
The concept of “green jobs” has become immensely popular among policy planners looking to address the
problem of global warming, yet are aware of the economic costs of anti-carbon measures. The promise that
western economies can reduce carbon emissions while creating thousands, if not millions, of “green jobs” —
which will more than compensate for the job losses that will occur in sectors reliant on fossil fuels — has been
especially embraced by politicians, relieved to find a pro-climate policy that also doubles as a pro-economic
policy. Unfortunately, there is scant agreement on what fairly qualifies as a “green job,” and much evidence
that what policy-makers frequently consider “green jobs” are, in fact, existing jobs, belonging to the traditional
economy, but simply reclassified as “green.”
By emphasizing “green jobs,” policy-makers risk measuring environmental progress based on a concept
that can often be entirely irrelevant, or worse, can actually be detrimental to both the environment and the
economy. Too often, “green job” policies reward inefficiency, while also failing to distinguish between
permanent, full-time jobs and temporary or part-time jobs. In some cases they can also discourage trade, limit
or thwart competition, result in greater job losses elsewhere in the economy, and demand massive government
subsidies, with some government “green job” programs requiring hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even
millions, to create a single job.
The urge of politicians to champion “green employment” is understandable given its convenient, if frequently
unrealistic promise of a politically saleable anti-carbon policy. However, a more reliable and meaningful
measure of environmental progress ultimately has little to do with the number of jobs a particular company
creates (after all, if economic efficiency — and hence, prosperity — is indeed a policy goal, the number of jobs
created should ideally be as minimal as necessary for every unit of output). Rather, if minimizing energy use
and greenhouse gas emissions is the desired policy outcome, then measuring the intensity of energy use and
greenhouse gas emissions per unit of output can be the only meaningful metric. It may not have the political
appeal that a promise of “green jobs” does. But unlike “green jobs,” both of these measures provide
quantifiable, non-arbitrary metrics of environmental performance and progress. In other words, unlike the
problematic, arguably illusory concept of “green employment,” measuring energy-use intensity and emissions
intensity actually tells us very clearly and reliably whether we are making the environment better or worse.
†
The authors would like to thank two anonymous referees whose comments greatly improved the paper.
w w w. p o l i c yschool.ca
INTRODUCTION
There is a growing trend among employers, governments and NGOs to identify and give credit
to a category of jobs that can be segregated and discretely defined as “green.” This comes out of
growing concern over climate change and global warming, but also concern over the economic
consequences of actions to mitigate carbon emissions. Several Conservative members of
Parliament have gone on record in the House of Commons stating that a carbon tax would “raise
the price of everything” and Conservative MP Bernard Trottier referred to a carbon tax as “jobkilling.”1
The promise of green jobs appears to be a way of addressing two policy issues at once:
employment and environmental improvements. Policy-makers can argue that green-job creation
will compensate for jobs lost due to more stringent environmental policy. In a 2008 speech,
then-president-elect Barack Obama stated, “My presidency will mark a new chapter in
America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of
new jobs in the process.”2 He went on to proclaim that investing in clean energy technologies
will “help us transform our industries and steer our country out of this economic crisis by
generating five million new green jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced.” The “Green
Shift” plan championed by Canada’s federal Liberal party during the 2008 election argued that a
carbon tax would create green jobs.
Much of the attraction of this term stems from consumer interest and preference for labelling
that highlights the value of natural systems or a more proactive stance toward the environment.
As well, there is currently a strong focus in the media on threats to the natural environment
combined with government and policy interest in “solutions” that may serve to mitigate adverse
environmental trends. “Green jobs” neatly fits in all of these categories.
This paper discusses the emerging trend in creating and integrating so-called “green
employment” or green jobs into the traditional economy. The characterization of “green-ness” is
a new and, at present, relatively imprecise term. The term has been used to complement the goal
of achieving a greener, and more sustainable economy than that offered by traditional
employment categories, and one focused on aggregate production and consumption with
minimal net impacts on the biosphere as well as social systems. Nevertheless, many consider the
green sector to be a real and important part of economies today. For many, there is value in
measuring the size of, as well as accurately defining, the green sector.
There are easily as many definitions of green jobs as there are reports discussing the sector.
Common themes in the discussion of green jobs and the green or clean economy include the use
of renewable energy, improved energy efficiency, pollution prevention and mitigation, and
resource conservation. One of the difficulties in measuring and defining green jobs is that the
1
1
Canada. House of Commons Debates, May 6–10, 2013 (Mr. Bernard Trottier, CPC)
http://www.parl.gc.ca/housechamberbusiness/chambersittings.aspx.
2
Office of the President-Elect, News Release, “President-elect Obama promises ‘new chapter’ on climate change,”
November 18, 2008,
http://change.gov/newsroom/entry/president_elect_obama_promises_new_chapter_on_climate_change/.
“sector” is (potentially) included in all parts of an economy. The jobs themselves are spread
across traditional industry definitions. Traditional industries are classified by their output,
rather than the types of inputs. The distinction of “green” does not necessarily represent new
growth in the economy, but rather redefined growth.3
To quote the Worldwatch Institute,4 “[i]n an ideal state of affairs, a green economy is one that
does not generate pollution or waste and is hyper-efficient in its use of energy, water, and
materials. Using this green utopia as a yardstick would mean that currently there are few, if
any, green jobs. A more realistic, pragmatic approach is process-oriented rather than fixated on
an ideal yet elusive end-state. In other words, green jobs are those that contribute appreciably
to maintaining or restoring environmental quality and avoiding future damage to the Earth’s
ecosystems” (emphasis added).
Policy-makers have an appropriate concern about the definition of green jobs and the
contribution of the green economy for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, green jobs are
often claimed to be a benefit or outcome of environmental policies.5 Second, given the
potential problems of climate change, economies require “greening.” Third, there is increased
consumer demand for “green” products. Given the uncertainty referenced above, policies to
create green jobs may best be separated from policies designed to improve environmental
quality. It is possible that green-job creation will be a beneficial side-effect of policies to
improve environmental standards, but these policies should be judged on their merits, based on
this objective, rather than job creation (green or otherwise).
Much of the impact associated with job growth depends on the metric used for comparison.
For instance, Kammen et al. state that in terms of energy delivered, investment in the
renewable-energy sector created more employment than the fossil-fuel-based energy sector per
unit of energy delivered when measured on the basis of jobs per average megawatt.6 Wei et al.
synthesize data from 15 previous studies on the job-creation potential of non-fossil-fuel energy
sources for the U.S., finding non-fossil-fuel technologies create more jobs per unit of energy
than coal or natural gas.7 This means, of course, that non-fossil-fuel technologies are more
inefficient (on a per-job basis) at producing energy.
2
3
Bezdek et al. (Roger H. Bezdek, Roger M. Wendling and Paula DiPerna, “Environmental Protection, the Economy
and Jobs: National and Regional Analyses,” Journal of Environmental Management 86, 1 (2008) 63–79) find the vast
majority of jobs in the environmental-protection industry are standard, and that even within environmental
companies, the majority of employees are not classified as environmental specialists.
4
UNEP/ILO/IOE/ITUC, “Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World,” 2008.
5
For example, a report produced by ClearSky Advisors regarding Ontario’s wind energy program states “the wind
energy sector creates more employment opportunities per unit of energy produced and does so at a lower cost per
job” (ClearSky Advisors, “The Economic Impacts of the Wind Energy Sector in Ontario 2011-2018,” 2011). Robert
Pollin et al. suggest that investing US$100 billion in “six energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies” will
create two-million jobs. (“Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon
Economy,” Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts Amherst and Center for American
Progress Report, 2008, http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/09/pdf/green_recovery.pdf)
6
D. M. Kammen, K. Kapadia and M. Fripp, “Putting Renewables to Work: How Many Jobs Can the Clean Energy
Industry Generate?” Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory Report, University of California, Berkeley, 2004.
7
Max Wei, Shana Patadia and D. M. Kammen, “Putting renewables and energy efficiency to work: How many jobs
can the clean energy industry generate in the US?” Energy Policy 38, 2 (2010) 919–931.
Instead of focusing on green jobs as a policy goal, governments and policy-makers should
concentrate on the issue of employment (or job creation) separately from the issue of
environmental improvement. Focusing on green jobs confounds the issue of employment
growth with environmental protection/mitigation. Often, green jobs are considered to be a
metric of environmental progress. A better metric is improvements in energy use and energy
use per unit of output, and greenhouse gas emissions and GHGs per unit of output. Both of
these measures provide a quantifiable, non-arbitrary metric of environmental performance and
progress.
In this paper, we first provide an overview of definitions advanced in the literature, followed
by a review of critiques of the literature, and then provide a summary of previous work
measuring green jobs in Canada. We follow with a discussion of the meaning of “green” in this
context, and advance an alternative definition. We then provide a comparison of the relative
greenness of Canadian industries. We conclude with recommendations regarding the future of
green jobs as a policy goal.
DEFINITION AND MEASUREMENT
A green job8 presents a definitional challenge. There are many suggested alternatives available,
but no broad literature or policy consensus has emerged. Before discussing our preferred
definition, we provide a brief overview of potential definitions put forward by the various
NGOs, think tanks, government organizations and academics studying green jobs. Some
studies are mainly concerned with collating the number of green jobs, while others focus on
job creation due to green policy initiatives.
Green Jobs in the Literature
The definition of a green job can be occupation-specific, industry-specific, reflect the
underlying process or the output produced, or be very broad and inclusive. Different definitions
are tabulated in Table 1; industry definitions, rather than job definitions are tabulated in Table
2. In the range of definitions presented in Tables 1 and 2, we find several common threads.
These include conserving resources, use of renewable energy, and preserving or restoring
environmental quality. However, despite the common threads, there are still many definitions
of what “green” is.
Renner et al. note “efforts to boost the efficiency of energy, water, and materials use also
involve some degree of ‘green’ employment.9 But because there is no clear threshold to define
this efficiency, it can be difficult to decide which jobs are truly green.” The definition
suggested by Renner et al. is a “shades of green” argument — that the degree of conservation
of resources defines the “greenness” of the job.
3
8
A colloquial variation is “green-collar” job.
9
Michael Renner, Sean Sweeney and Jill Kubit, “Green Jobs: Working for People and the Environment,” Worldwatch
Institute Report 177, 2008
In contrast, a report produced by The Pew Charitable Trusts states there is a lack of consensus
on what the term “green economy” means, and that “green” has “lost meaning, focus and
value” through overuse.10 It instead chooses to define a “clean energy economy,” a definition
that focuses on the following areas: 1) clean energy; 2) energy efficiency; 3) environmentally
friendly production; 4) conservation and pollution mitigation; and 5) training and support.
A report from the Brookings Institution defines the “clean economy” as economic activity “that
provides goods and services with an environmental benefit or adds value to such products
using skills or technologies that are uniquely applied to those products.”11 The authors note
their definition is consistent with the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) standard,
and a slight variation on the definition used by the European Commission’s statistical agency,
Eurostat. The Brookings Institution definition only includes employment in industries that add
value uniquely to green production — i.e., have “skills or technology unique to the clean
economy” — while other studies use definitions that are broader.
One of the key differences among the various definitions offered is what is considered to be
renewable or clean energy. Both the OECD12 and Eurostat13 exclude nuclear power from the
definition of the environmental services, but include handling of nuclear waste. While nuclear
power is not typically considered to be a renewable power source, Global Insight,14 Wei et al.,15
Muro et al,16 and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics consider nuclear to be clean energy. In
their discussion of renewable-energy production, Renner et al.17 include hydro power, but
exclude nuclear.18 As well, Worldwatch,19 The Pew Charitable Trusts,20 Greenpeace21 and
IRENA22 consider small-scale hydro or “low-impact” projects to be renewable, but not large
4
10
The Pew Charitable Trusts, “The Clean Energy Economy,” 2009,
http://www.pewenvironment.org/uploadedFiles/PEG/Publications/Report/Clean%20Energy%20Economy.pdf.
11
Mark Muro, Jonathan Rothwell and Devashree Saha, “Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green
Jobs Assessment,” The Brookings Institution, Report, July 13, 2011,
http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2011/07/13-clean-economy.
12
OECD, “The Environmental Goods & Services Industry: Manual for Data Collection and Analysis,” 1999.
13
Eurostat, “The environmental goods and services sector — a data collection handbook,” 2009.
14
Global Insight, “U.S. Metro Economics: Current and Potential Green Jobs in the U.S. Economy,” October 2008,
Report for The United States Conference of Mayors and the Mayors Climate Protection Center,
http://www.usmayors.org/pressreleases/uploads/greenjobsreport.pdf.
15
Wei, Patadia and Kammen, “Putting renewables and energy efficiency to work.”
16
Muro, Rothwell and Saha, “Sizing the Clean Economy.”
17
Renner, Sweeney and Kubit, “Green Jobs: Working for People and the Environment.”
18
Nuclear power is considered to be “dirty” by many groups because of potential hazards from the operation of plants
as well as issues with nuclear-waste disposal.
19
UNEP/ILO/IOE/ITUC, “Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World,” 2008.
20
The Pew Charitable Trusts, “The Clean Energy Economy.”
21
Jay Rutovitz and Alison Atherton, “Energy sector jobs to 2030: a global analysis,” Prepared for Greenpeace
International by the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney, 2009,
http://www.greenpeace.org/brasil/PageFiles/3751/energy-sector-jobs-to-2030.pdf.
22
International Renewable Energy Agency, “Renewable Energy Jobs: Status, Prospects & Policies,” IRENA Working
Paper, 2011, http://www.irena.org/DocumentDownloads/Publications/RenewableEnergyJobs.pdf.
projects; Moore et al.23 exclude hydro greater than 30 MW and Kammen et al.24 exclude hydro
altogether. Many renewable portfolio standards programs, for instance, disallow credit for large
hydro projects on the grounds that the environmental impacts outweigh the “green” benefits
and thus neutralize the categorical value or even the inclusion of this category.
ECO Canada has chosen to create separate definitions for green economy, green organizations
and green jobs.25 It defines the “green economy” as the “aggregate of all activity operating
with the primary intention of reducing conventional levels of resource consumption, harmful
emissions, and minimizing all forms of environmental impact. The green economy includes the
inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes as they relate to the production of green products and
services.” A “green organization” is “one that produces goods or services designed to minimize
environmental impact,” while a “green job” is “one that works directly with information,
technologies, or materials that minimize environmental impact, and also requires specialized
skills, knowledge, training, or experience related to these areas.” A second study published by
ECO Canada provides a narrower definition based on the idea of environmental employment:
“individuals who spend 50% or more of their work time on activities associated with
environmental protection, resource management, or environmental sustainability.”26
ECO Canada27 notes that limiting the definition of green jobs or the green economy to
businesses that produce green products or services — the definition chosen by the OECD,28
Statistics Canada,29 Bezdek et al.30 and The Brookings Institution31 — would exclude what
could be considered green jobs in traditional industries, such as individuals implementing
energy-efficiency programs at “non-green” places of employment. This reflects the difference
between the output approach compared to the process approach for defining green jobs. The
output approach identifies establishments that produce green goods and services and then
counts the associated jobs; the process approach identifies establishments that use
environmentally friendly production processes and practices and counts the associated jobs.
The output approach identifies jobs related to producing a certain set of goods and services,
such as solar panels. The process approach identifies “activities and associated jobs that
favorably impact the environment although the product or service produced is itself not
‘green.’”32
5
23
M.C. Moore, J. Sharpless and M. Masri, “A Renewable Energy Resources Plan for the State of California,”
California Energy Commission, 1997.
24
Kammen, Kapadia and Fripp, “Putting Renewables to Work.”
25
Environmental Careers Organization (ECO) Canada, “Defining the Green Economy,” Labour Market Research
Study, 2010.
26
Environmental Careers Organization (ECO) Canada, “Profile of Canadian Environmental Employment,” Labour
Market Research Study, 2010.
27
Environmental Careers Organization (ECO) Canada, “Defining the Green Economy.”
28
OECD, “The Environmental Goods & Services Industry.”
29
Statistics Canada, “Environment Industry: Business Sector,” Catalogue number 16F0008XIE, September 24, 2007,
http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/bsolc/olc-cel/olc-cel?catno=16F0008X&lang=eng.
30
Bezdek, Wendling and DiPerna, “Environmental Protection, the Economy and Jobs.”
31
Muro, Rothwell and Saha, “Sizing the Clean Economy.”
32
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Overall approach to measuring green jobs,” http://www.bls.gov/green/.
Measurement and definition of the number of green jobs in the United States by the Bureau of
Labor Statistics follows the output and the process approach. This is also the most
comprehensive and data-driven, as the process approach captures occupations and jobs missed
by the output approach. On the other hand, the definition used by Statistics Canada is to simply
define green industries rather than green jobs — firms operating in Canada that are involved in
the production of environmental goods or the provision of environmental services.
TABLE 1:
DEFINITIONS OF GREEN JOBS
Report
Definition
Bezdek et al.33
“[E]nvironmental industries and green jobs [are] those which, as a result of environmental
pressures and concerns, have produced the development of products, processes, and
services, which specifically target the reduction of environmental impact. Environmentrelated jobs include those created both directly and indirectly by EP expenditures.”
Defines U.S.
“environmental
jobs”
Global Insight34
“[A]ny activity that generates electricity using renewable or nuclear fuels, agriculture jobs
supplying corn or soy for transportation fuel, manufacturing jobs producing goods used in
renewable power generation, equipment dealers and wholesalers specializing in renewable
energy or energy-efficiency products, construction and installation of energy and pollution
management systems, government administration of environmental programs, and
supporting jobs in the engineering, legal, research and consulting fields.”
Defines green
jobs
Renner et al.35
“[E]mployment that contributes to preserving or restoring environmental quality and
avoiding future damage to Earth’s ecosystems.”
Defines green
jobs
Worldwatch36
“[P]ositions in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, installation, and maintenance, as
well as scientific and technical, administrative, and service-related activities, that contribute
substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality. Specifically, but not
exclusively, this includes jobs that help to protect and restore ecosystems and biodiversity;
reduce energy, materials, and water consumption through high-efficiency and avoidance
strategies; decarbonizes the economy; and minimize or altogether avoid generation of all
forms of waste and pollution.”
Defines green
jobs
Bezdek/ American “A job in the RE [renewable energy] industry consists of an employee working in one of the
Solar Energy
major RE technologies — wind, photovoltaics, solar thermal, hydroelectric power, geothermal,
Society37
biomass (ethanol, biodiesel, and biomass power), and fuel cells and hydrogen. A job in the
EE [energy efficiency] industry consists of an employee working in a sector that is entirely
part of the EE industry, such as an energy service company or the recycling, reuse, and
remanufacturing sector. It also includes some employees in industries in which only a
portion of the output is classified as within the EE sector, such as household appliances,
HVAC systems, construction, automobile manufacturing, and others. Jobs in RE&EE include
persons involved in RE&EE activities in federal, state, and local government, universities,
nonprofits, trade and professional associations, non-governmental organizations,
foundations, consultancies, investment companies, and other related organizations.”
Michigan Green
Jobs Report38
6
Notes
“Includes primary occupations engaged in generating a firm’s green-related products or
services, and the other support jobs created by the firm’s green-related revenue.”
Defines
renewableenergy and
energy-efficiency
jobs
Defines green
jobs
33
Bezdek, Wendling and DiPerna, “Environmental Protection, the Economy and Jobs.”
34
Global Insight, “U.S. Metro Economics.”
35
Renner, Sweeney and Kubit, “Green Jobs: Working for People and the Environment.”
36
UNEP/ILO/IOE/ITUC, “Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World.”
37
Roger H. Bezdek, “Green Collar Jobs in the U.S. and Colorado: Economic Drivers for the 21st Century,” American
Solar Energy Society Report, January 2009.
38
Bruce Weaver et al., “Michigan Green Jobs Report 2009: Occupations & Employment in the New Green Economy,”
Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth: Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic
Initiatives, May 2009, http://www.michigan.gov/documents/nwlb/GJC_GreenReport_Print_277833_7.pdf.
TABLE 1:
DEFINITIONS OF GREEN JOBS (cont’d)
Report
Definition
Notes
ECO Canada39
“[O]ne that works directly with information, technologies, or materials that minimize
environmental impact, and also requires specialized skills, knowledge, training, or
experience related to these areas.”
Defines green
jobs
MartinezFernandez et al.40
“[J]obs that contribute to protecting the environment and reducing the harmful effects
human activity has on it (mitigation), or to helping to better cope with current climate
change conditions (adaptation).”
Defines green
jobs
U.S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics41
A. Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment
or conserve natural resources.
B. Jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes
more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources
Defines green
jobs
TABLE 2:
DEFINITIONS OF THE GREEN INDUSTRY/ECONOMY
Report
OECD42
Definition
“[C]onsists of activities which produce goods and services to measure, prevent, limit,
minimise or correct environmental damage to water, air and soil, as well as problems
related to waste, noise and eco-systems. This includes cleaner technologies, products and
services that reduce environmental risk and minimise pollution and resource use.”
Statistics Canada43 “[A]ll firms operating in Canada that are involved, in whole or in part, in the production of
environmental goods (including construction) or the provision of environmental services.”
7
Notes
Classifies the
environmental
goods and
services industry
Defines the
environment
industry
ECO Canada44
“The aggregate of all activity operating with the primary intention of reducing conventional
levels of resource consumption, harmful emissions, and minimizing all forms of
environmental impact. The green economy includes the inputs, activities, outputs and
outcomes as they relate to the production of green products and services.”
Defines the green
economy
Eurostat45
“[A] heterogeneous set of producers of technologies, goods and services that:
• Measure, control, restore, prevent, treat, minimise, research and sensitise environmental
damages to air, water and soil as well as problems related to waste, noise, biodiversity
and landscapes. This includes ‘cleaner’ technologies, goods and services that prevent or
minimise pollution.
• Measure, control, restore, prevent, minimise, research and sensitise resource depletion.
This results mainly in resource-efficient technologies, goods and services that minimise
the use of natural resources.
These technologies and products (i.e. goods and services) must satisfy the end purpose
criterion, i.e. they must have an environmental protection or resource management purpose
(hereinafter ‘environmental purpose’) as their prime objective.”
Defines the
environmental
goods and
services sector
39
Environmental Careers Organization (ECO) Canada, “Defining the Green Economy.”
40
Cristina Martinez-Fernandez, Carlos Hinojosa and Gabriela Miranda, “Greening Jobs and Skills: Labour Market
Implications of Addressing Climate Change,” OECD Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED)
Working Paper, 2010.
41
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Overall approach to measuring green jobs.”
42
OECD, “The Environmental Goods & Services Industry: Manual for Data Collection and Analysis.”
43
Statistics Canada, “Environment Industry: Business Sector.”
44
Environmental Careers Organization (ECO) Canada, “Defining the Green Economy.”
45
Eurostat, “The environmental goods and services sector — a data collection handbook.”
TABLE 2:
DEFINITIONS OF THE GREEN INDUSTRY/ECONOMY (cont’d)
Report
Michigan Green
Jobs Report46
Definition
“Industries that provide products or services related to renewable energy, increased energy Defines the green
efficiency, clean transportation and fuels, agriculture and natural resource conservation, and economy
pollution prevention or environmental cleanup.”
The Pew Charitable “A clean energy economy generates jobs, businesses and investments while expanding
Trusts47
clean energy production, increasing energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions,
waste and pollution, and conserving water and other natural resources.
The clean energy economy cuts across five categories: (1) Clean Energy; (2) Energy
Efficiency; (3) Environmentally Friendly Production; (4) Conservation and Pollution
Mitigation; and (5) Training and Support.”
ECO Canada48
Notes
“[E]mployed individuals who spend 50% or more of their work time on activities associated
with environmental protection, resource management, or environmental sustainability.”
Defines the
“clean energy
economy” in the
U.S.
Defines Canadian
environmental
employment
Critiques of the Green-Jobs Literature
Many of the studies counting green jobs or predicting future green jobs argue that investing in
green activities will result in employment (and economic) growth. A commonly promoted
green activity is switching to a higher share of electricity produced from renewable sources.49
Others concentrate on reducing transportation and switching to local agriculture.50 Many of
these studies have been criticized on the basis of their methodology as well as the conclusions
reached. We provide a brief overview of the critiques below.
One of the most common critiques is focused on the nature of green jobs
where their creation and/or existence is considered to be a benefit and rationale for proposed
programs. Tuerck et al. note that green-job studies suggest that the benefit of requiring more
“green” work to create the same amount of energy or output counts as a benefit.51 Indeed,
ClearSky Advisors,52 Worldwatch,53 the Union of Concerned Scientists,54 and Greenpeace55
Job Creation as a Goal:
8
46
Bruce Weaver et al., “Michigan Green Jobs Report 2009.”
47
The Pew Charitable Trusts, “The Clean Energy Economy.”
48
Environmental Careers Organization (ECO) Canada, “Profile of Canadian Environmental Employment.”
49
Pollin et al., “Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy”; Muro,
Rothwell and Saha, “Sizing the Clean Economy”; Rutovitz and Atherton, “Energy sector jobs to 2030: a global
analysis.”
50
UNEP/ILO/IOE/ITUC, “Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World”; Renner, Sweeney
and Kubit, “Green Jobs: Working for People and the Environment.”
51
David G. Tuerck, Benjamin Powell and Paul Bachman, “‘Green Collar’ Job Creation: A Critical Analysis,” Beacon
Hill Institute Policy Study No. 52, June 2009,
http://www.beaconhill.org/BHIStudies/GreenJobs09/BHIGreen_Collar_Job_Critique090625.pdf.
52
ClearSky Advisors, “The Economic Impacts of the Wind Energy Sector in Ontario 2011–2018,” Report
Commissioned by the Canadian Wind Energy Association, 2011,
http://www.canwea.ca/pdf/economic_impacts_wind_energy_ontario2011-2018.pdf.
53
UNEP/ILO/IOE/ITUC, “Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World.”
54
Union of Concerned Scientists, “Clean Energy, Green Jobs” Fact Sheet, 2009,
http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/smart-energy-solutions/increase-renewables/clean-energy-green-jobs.html.
55
Rutovitz and Atherton, “Energy sector jobs to 2030: a global analysis.”
embrace this notion. Morriss et al.56 note the green-jobs estimates from the literature often
include clerical, bureaucratic and/or administrative positions. Gülen,57 Michaels and Murphy,58
and Morriss et al.59 argue that by promoting more jobs instead of productivity, proponents of
green jobs are encouraging inefficient use of labour.
The appropriate measure of “success” is when a green-job program creates more jobs than any
alternative use, including lower tax burdens overall. Again, this metric is not always used, as
many studies chose to evaluate programs based on jobs per unit of energy produced. The
second measure of success, jobs per unit of energy produced, is difficult to justify and measure.
Energy is the output, and labour, or jobs, is one of the inputs. Traditional measures of
productivity are output per unit of input, and measuring jobs per unit of energy is simply the
inverse of the program’s or industry’s labour productivity. Based on this understanding of the
relationship between productivity and jobs, programs that create more jobs per unit of energy
produced are inefficient and waste resources. Using this measure as a way to judge the success
of policies rewards inefficiency.
Some but not all green job studies consider job creation but not
destruction, and create an overly simplistic view of the labour market.60 Tuerck et al. argue that
green jobs can be considered net benefits only if the value the job produces is greater than the
cost of performing the job, and note that most green-jobs studies fail to make this argument.61
There is little acknowledgement of part-time green jobs, and often existing jobs that are
considered green are counted as “new.” Gülen62 notes a common issue with green-jobs reports
is that the quoted number of jobs created does not distinguish between (temporary)
construction jobs and (long-term) operational jobs.63 Moreover, increased energy costs as a
result of many promoted policies can lead to job losses in other sectors such as environmental
remediation or construction.
Failure to Consider Net Effects:
9
56
Andrew P. Morriss, William T. Bogart, Andrew Dorchak and Roger E. Meiners, “Seven Myths About Green Jobs,”
International Policy Network Working Paper, 2010.
57
Gürcan Gülen, “Defining, Measuring and Predicting Green Jobs,” Copenhagen Consensus Center Research Paper,
February 2011, http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/research/climate-change-and-energy/economic-analysis-ofthe-promise-of-green-jobs.
58
Robert Michaels and Robert Murphy, “Green Jobs: Fact or Fiction? An Assessment of the Literature,” Institute for
Energy Research Report, 2009,
http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2009/01/13/green-jobs-analysis/.
59
Morriss et al., “Seven Myths About Green Jobs.”
60
See: Gülen, “Defining, Measuring and Predicting Green Jobs”; and Michaels and Murphy, “Green Jobs: Fact or
Fiction?”, for further details on this issue.
61
Tuerck, Powell and Bachman, “‘Green Collar’ Job Creation.”
62
Gülen, “Defining, Measuring and Predicting Green Jobs.”
63
This is a problem endemic to many job creation programs, not just green jobs. An example of this is estimates of job
creation from Canada’s Economic Action Plan (Table A2.16 in “The Stimulus Phase of Canada’s Economic Action
Plan: A Final Report to Canadians”).
Costs of Investment: The
incentive for, and the investment commitment to, develop new energy
capacity is often assumed by policy-makers, but rarely justified. Gülen notes that many
positive effects associated with these programs depend on aggressive growth assumptions for
renewable power.64 Michaels and Murphy identify a common assumption that holds that the
potential benefits from new technologies will occur only through government programs,
ignoring the role of the private sector in investment and job creation.65 Gülen makes the further
point that the technical challenge of creating infrastructure to handle large amounts of
intermittent electricity supply is not addressed.
Morriss et al. note that the green-jobs literature typically encourages reducing
trade and relying on local production, stating “this is a recipe for economic disaster.”66 Gülen
supports this by stating that many studies rely on protectionist policies to support local
industries. He notes that government support (tax breaks, subsidies, domestic content
requirement, etc.) of green projects distort “comparative cost advantages and often lead to
adoption of more expensive technologies.” While not a critique of the green-jobs literature per
se, Lehr et al. observe that an increase in net employment depends heavily on the continued
ability of a country, such as Germany, to export renewable energy.67
Role of Trade:
Limiting Competition: The Task
Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress
suggests Ontario’s Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) system can inhibit innovation by encouraging
electricity producers to lock into existing technologies in order to gain the system’s subsidies.68
For instance, the report notes that solar power and wind power are heavily subsidized through
the FIT program, and states that it is not clear if these technologies are the best method of
reducing carbon emissions in a cost-effective manner. The report suggests that instead of trying
to pick winning technologies, the Ontario government should adopt “winner-neutral” policies,
such as carbon pricing.
In addition to critiquing the green-jobs literature, Michaels and Murphy offer questions they
feel the literature has failed to ask.69 How much government support of “green” markets is
enough? Are the programs sustainable? Hughes70 raises three questions that should be
addressed when considering job creation linked to policies for promoting renewable energy,
10
64
Gülen, “Defining, Measuring and Predicting Green Jobs.”
65
Michaels and Murphy, “Green Jobs: Fact or Fiction?”
66
Most economists would undoubtedly agree there are (significant) productivity increases due to trade, and that
restricting trade will have negative effects on output. However, as Costas Arkolakis, Arnaud Costinot and Andrés
Rodríguez-Clare show, little is known about the true magnitude of gains from trade. (“New Trade Models, Same Old
Gains?” American Economic Review 102, 1: 94–130 (February 2012)).
67
Ulrike Lehr, Christian Lutz and Dietmar Edler, “Green Jobs? Economic Impacts of Renewable Energy in Germany,”
Energy Policy 47, 1 (2012) 358–364 ; Ulrike Lehr et al., “Renewable Energy and Employment in Germany,” Energy
Policy 36, 1 (2008) 108–117.
68
Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress, “Today’s innovation, tomorrow’s prosperity,”
Ninth Annual Report, November 2010.
69
Michaels and Murphy, “Green Jobs: Fact or Fiction?”
70
Gordon Hughes, “The Myth of Green Jobs,” The Global Warming Policy Foundation, GWPF Report 3, 2011,
http://thegwpf.org/images/stories/gwpf-reports/hughes-green_jobs.pdf.
energy conservation or reducing emissions: 1) Why would, or should, the creation of jobs be
seen as a reasonable basis for assessing the merits of economic or environmental policies? 2) If
job creation is a relevant basis for assessing the potential impact of environmental policies, are
there sound reasons to believe that green-energy policies can lead to an increase in the total
level of employment? 3) Is there any convincing evidence that the green-energy policies being
implemented will actually lead to higher levels of total employment, either in the short term or
long run?
Green Jobs in Canada
There is little information on green employment in Canada. As many studies point out, green
jobs do not typically fit into standard industry or occupational definitions. As noted by
Statistics Canada, “The environment industry is not a traditional industry sector and is not
currently defined in the North American Classification of Industries System (NAICS).”71
Statistics Canada surveys the environment industry, but does not attempt to count green jobs.
ECO Canada surveyed employment at “green companies” and Canadian environmental
employment. Beyond Statistics Canada and ECO Canada, other estimates of green jobs are
from research papers looking at specific programs, and not a broad analysis of green
employment.
PREVIOUS ESTIMATES
Statistics Canada performs a biennial survey of the environment industry and reports on its
activities, but the latest report available, published in 2007, details results from a survey that
occurred in 2004. The survey has employment statistics for environmental establishments,
which are defined as establishments that earned revenues from the sale of environmental goods
or services. These are reported in Table 3, below. Unfortunately, the 2007 report does not give
environmental employment as a percentage of total employment in the industries identified,
only environmental employment as a percentage of total employment at the environmental
establishments.
71
11
Rowena Orok, “Measuring Employment in the Environment Industry,” Statistics Canada Environmental Accounts
and Statistics Technical Paper Series, Catalogue Number 16-001-MIE, 001, 2004,
http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/bsolc/olc-cel/olc-cel?catno=16-001-M2004001&lang=eng.
TABLE 3:
EMPLOYMENT IN ENVIRONMENTAL ESTABLISHMENTS, 2004
Industry groups that include environmental
establishments
Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting
Mining and oil and gas extraction
Utilities
Construction
Chemical manufacturing
Plastic and rubber products manufacturing
Non-metallic mineral product manufacturing
Primary metal manufacturing
Fabricated metal product manufacturing
Machinery manufacturing
Computer and electronic product manufacturing
Electrical equipment, appliance and component manufacturing
Other manufacturing
Wholesale trade
Retail trade
Finance and insurance services
Legal services
Architectural and landscape architectural services
Engineering services
Surveying and mapping (including geophysical) services
Testing laboratories
Computer systems design and related services
Environmental consulting services
Management consulting and other scientific and technical consulting services
Scientific research and development services
All other professional, scientific and technical services
Management of companies and enterprises
Administrative and support services
Waste management and remediation services
Other services
Environmental employees as a
percentage of total employees
42
42
5
22
22
44
24
31
26
41
41
55
45
21
52
6
4
24
27
18
47
10
59
48
70
21
23
39
67
21
Source: Statistics Canada, “Environment Industry: Business Sector,” Table A.19.1.
A 2004 working paper from Statistics Canada makes the distinction between environmental
employment and employment in environmental industries, and outlines different methodologies
to estimate environmental employment. Previous Statistics Canada publications on the
environmental sector reported total employment in identified establishments. Table 3 reflects
the attempt to account for environmental employment in the identified establishments.
An estimate of total employment in environmental industries from Statistics Canada
necessitates using data from 2000, reflecting the shift to reporting environmental employment,
as we point out above. Moreover, due to the way environmental industries are constructed by
12
the Environmental Accounts Division, environmental employment as a percentage of total
employment by industry group is not always possible to calculate.72 Finally, due to the age of
the data, the Statistics Canada reports do not provide much information about green
employment in Canada.
More recently, ECO Canada surveyed 501 “green companies” in Canada.73 Based on the
survey, ECO finds that many green companies (43 per cent) were primarily involved in
professional, scientific and professional services. It also found that 66 per cent of green
companies reported more than 50 per cent of full-time employees worked in green jobs some
or all of the time. A survey of Canadian environmental employment by ECO Canada74
estimates that Canada has over 682,000 environmental employees. Based on this, ECO Canada
concludes that four per cent of the total (employed) Canadian labour force is engaged in
environmentally-related75 activities for at least 50 per cent of their work time.
Table 4 replicates the results from the ECO Canada survey, displaying the distribution of
Canadian environmental employees by two-digit NAICS code. It is noteworthy that the
industry with the largest number of workers identified as environmental employees — 17.8 per
cent of Canadian environmental employment — falls under the category “Education, Health
and Social Assistance.” This is interesting, as the majority of industry groups identified by
Statistics Canada as part of the environmental industry fall under manufacturing, professional
services, and primary industries.
Based on the “50 per cent of time spent on environmental activities” measure of green
employment, the “greenest” industry category in Canada, with the highest proportion of the
workforce in environmental employment, is Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting. Using
the lenient measure of some amount of time spent on environmental activities, the greenest
industry category by proportion of workers is Arts, Recreation, Accommodation and Food
Services. Looking at total number of employees, the greenest industry category is Wholesale
and Retail Trade.
13
72
Many of the environmental-services industry groups are based on four- or five-digit NAICS codes, and total
employment detail is not available at this level.
73
Environmental Careers Organization (ECO) Canada, “Defining the Green Economy.”
74
Environmental Careers Organization (ECO) Canada, “Profile of Canadian Environmental Employment.”
75
Environmental employment is defined in the ECO Canada study as “employed individuals who spend 50% or more
of their work time on activities associated with environmental protection, resource management, or environmental
sustainability.”
TABLE 4:
TOTAL CANADIAN ENVIRONMENTAL EMPLOYEES BY INDUSTRY
Environmental Employees
Province
Spending more than 50 per cent of
their time on environmental activities
Workers
% of
workforce
Spending any time on
environmental activities
Workers
Total Canadian
Employment
(March 2009)
% of
workforce
Agriculture, Forestry,
Fishing and Hunting
41,878
10.8
64,019
16.4
389,528
Mining, Quarrying, and
Oil and Gas Extraction
11,405
4.5
22,868
9.1
251,972
Construction
89,020
7.4
213,783
17.9
1,195,900
Manufacturing
71,934
4.1
252,565
14.3
1,767,700
Wholesale and Retail Trade
93,265
3.5
441,853
16.6
2,657,600
Utilities, Transportation
and Warehousing
18,544
2.0
69,486
7.5
928,400
Information, Finance and
Insurance, Real Estate and
Management of Companies
7,340
0.5
34,773
2.3
1,516,442
Professional, Scientific and
Technical Services
65,285
5.1
127,377
10.0
1,276,450
Administration and Support,
Waste Management and
Remediation
36,124
5.8
96,105
15.4
624,854
Education, Health and
Social Assistance
121,751
3.7
268,755
8.3
3,246,900
Arts, Recreation,
Accommodation and
Food Services
59,252
4.1
280,714
19.5
1,436,593
Other Services
20,913
2.9
99,079
13.6
731,000
Public Administration
45,578
4.8
100,609
10.7
939,865
682,289
4.0
2,071,985
12.2
16,963,204
Total
Source: Environmental Careers Organization (ECO) Canada, “Profile of Canadian Environmental Employment,” Table 1.
Figure 1 displays environmental employment by occupational area, as identified by ECO
Canada. The largest category is “Environmental Safety and Health,” with 40 per cent of
environmental employment, followed by “Waste Management” (28 per cent). It is interesting to
note that “Environmental Communication and Public Awareness,” at 19 per cent, has almost
the same number of workers as “Site Assessment and Reclamation” (20 per cent). This speaks
to the importance of public awareness and support within the green or environmental industry
as a whole.
14
FIGURE 1:
76
ENVIRONMENTAL EMPLOYEES BY OCCUPATIONAL AREAS
Carbon and climate change mitigation
Eco-preservation/wildlife & fisheries mgmt
Research and Development
Natural Resource Management
Air quality
Alternative/Renewable Energy, Eco-efficiency
Policy and Legislation
Water Quality
Environmental Education & Training
Env. Communication & Public Awareness
Site Assessment and Reclamation
Waste Management
Environmental Safety and Health
Total Environmental Employees
0
2,000,000
4,000,000
6,000,000
8,000,000
Source: Environmental Careers Organization (ECO) Canada, “Profile of Canadian Environmental Employment.”
Table 5 and Figure 2 provide the distribution of environmental employment by province in
Canada. We can see that the proportion of environmental employment to total workers in each
province/region is relatively proportional to the size of the labour force. Environmental
employment is highest in Ontario and Quebec, reflecting their larger populations and larger
labour force.
TABLE 5:
ENVIRONMENTAL EMPLOYEES BY PROVINCE
Province
Atlantic Provinces
Quebec
Ontario
Manitoba & Saskatchewan
Alberta
British Columbia
Canada Total
76
15
Environmental
Employees
46,847
155,504
253,552
48,771
83,956
92,739
682,289
Total Employment
March 2010
1,099,199
3,877,644
6,595,121
1,140,680
1,982,121
2,268,499
16,963,204
Share of
Environmental
Employment
6.9
22.8
37.2
7.1
12.3
13.6
100
Environmental
Employees as a
Percentage of
Workers in Province
4.3
4.0
3.8
4.3
4.2
4.1
4.0
According to ECO Canada, as “most environmental employers indicated that their employees performed activities in
more than one NOS category, the total [exceeds]100%.”
FIGURE 2:
ENVIRONMENTAL EMPLOYMENT SHARES BY PROVINCE
45
Share of
Environmental
Employment
40
35
Environmental
Employees as a
Percentage
of Workers in
Province
30
25
20
15
Share of
Environmental
Employment
10
5
0
tic
lan es
At vinc
o
Pr
e
Qu
be
c
rio
ta
On
&
ba an
in to ew
a h
M atc
sk
Sa
Al
be
rta
it
Br
ish
C
m
olu
bia
Beyond estimates by Statistics Canada and ECO Canada, most green-job counting in Canada
appears to have been focused on programs in Ontario. The Ontario government estimates that
its provincial renewable-energy program created 50,000 jobs. A C.D. Howe Institute e-brief on
the program discusses two potential issues with the government’s job-creation estimate of
50,000 jobs.77 The authors argue the majority of jobs in construction, manufacturing and spinoff industries would have existed in the absence of the Ontario government’s subsidies.
Moreover, higher electricity costs as a result of the renewable-energy program will raise
business costs, resulting in fewer jobs than would exist in the absence of the program. The
authors argue that the net number of jobs could even be negative.
Bohringer et al. also evaluate Ontario’s FIT program and find that, although the policy is
successful at increasing employment in the “green” sectors of the economy, the policy is also
likely to increase the rate of unemployment in the province, and to reduce overall labour-force
participation.78 They estimate green employment increased by 11,000 jobs, but that 1.97 jobs
were lost in other sectors for every green job gained.
A recent study by the Conference Board of Canada on Ontario’s offshore wind industry
suggests that the industry would generate between 55,000 and 62,000 person-years of
employment from 2013 to 2026.79 In both cases, approximately 52 per cent of the new
employment would be in services; while in the best-case scenario for job creation, only seven
per cent of person-years would be associated with permanent operations and maintenance of
facilities. Considering the entire Ontario wind industry, ClearSky Advisors estimate 80,000
person-years of employment will be generated between 2011 and 2018.80 However, only 1,031
permanent operation and maintenance jobs are estimated.
16
77
Benjamin Dachis and Jan Carr, “Zapped: The High Cost of Ontario’s Renewable Electricity Subsidies,” C.D. Howe
Institute e-brief 117, May 31, 2011.
78
Christoph Bohringer, Nicholas J. Rivers, Thomas F. Rutherford and Randall Wigle, “Green jobs and renewable
energy policies: Employment impacts of Ontario’s feed-in tariff,” Berkeley Electronic Journal of Economic Analysis
and Policy (Contributions) 12, 1 (2012) 1–38.
79
Len Coad and Pedro Antunes, “Employment and Economic Impacts of Ontario’s Future Offshore Wind Power
Industry,” The Conference Board of Canada Report 11-148, December 2010.
80
ClearSky Advisors, “The Economic Impacts of the Wind Energy Sector in Ontario 2011–2018.”
COSTS OF GREEN-JOB CREATION
Any government grant, subsidy or tax-relief program comes at a cost, both in terms of the
government revenue spent, and the opportunity cost of the public funds. A “green jobs” or
“green energy” program is no different. While it may be difficult to measure the opportunity
cost of public funds spent on a specific program, the cost per job of “green” programs is
relatively easy to calculate. It provides a rough measure of the effectiveness of programs in
creating jobs, though it does not evaluate the effectiveness of green programs in reaching other
goals (such as emission reductions). There are several studies identifying these costs in
Canada, the United States and several European countries, and a brief review of these reveals
the lack of consensus and metrics that show the full costs of green job programs.
Dunkley compares productivity, labour costs and subsidies in the renewable-energy sector to
the petroleum sector in the United States.81 Labour costs were over twice as much per barrelof-oil-equivalent for the renewable sector in 2007, and this difference is projected to increase
to over six times as much by 2020. Dunkley estimates the cost per green job from 2009–2020
in the United States to be $418,800.
In contrast, evaluation of the Section 1603 Treasury Grant Program in the U.S. reveals a much
higher cost per job, and also substantial variation in the job-creation estimates. The 1603
program was a cash grant given to renewable-technology developers in lieu of the Section 48
Investment Tax Credit. Steinberg et al. evaluate the 1603 Program and find that, as of Nov. 10,
2011, the grant program had provided $9.7 billion in payments for 24,711 projects.82 Estimates
of direct construction jobs were 9,400 per year, and indirect jobs were estimated between
43,000 and 66,000 per year. Operational period direct jobs were estimated at 910 per year, with
between 4,200 and 4,600 indirect jobs. The operational period jobs were assumed to be
sustained over the 20-to-30-year lifetime of the projects. Preliminary analysis of the 1603
program by Bolinger et al. estimated that 71 projects resulted in 74,000 gross direct and
indirect jobs during the construction phase and approximately 3,900 jobs annually during the
operational phase.83 A significant caveat that Steinberg et al. place on their analysis is that the
results cannot be attributed to the 1603 grant alone, as some projects “may have progressed
without the award … therefore, the jobs and economic impact estimates can only be attributed
to the total investment in the projects.”
With this in mind, the cost per permanent job from the grant program is, in a best-case
scenario, a staggering $1.76 million per job. Considering only direct jobs (those directly
attributable to the program), the total cost is $10.7 million per job. Including the constructionphase jobs (and not discounting by their length) brings the cost per job down to $450,953.
17
81
Katrina Dunkley, “The Cost of Obama’s Green Dreams,” Fraser Institute, Fraser Forum (March 2009) 12–15.
82
Daniel Steinberg, Gian Porro and Marshall Goldberg, “Preliminary Analysis of the Jobs and Economic Impacts of
Renewable Energy Projects Supported by the §1603 Treasury Grant Program,” National Renewable Energy
Laboratory Technical Report NREL/TP-6A20-52739, April 2012, http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/52739.pdf.
83
M. Bolinger, R. Wiser and N. Darghouth, “Preliminary Evaluation of the Section 1603 Treasury Grant Program for
Renewable Power Projects in the United States.” Energy Policy 38 (2010) 6804–6819.
Ontario boasts the most aggressive green-jobs program in Canada. Dachis and Carr evaluated
Ontario’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act, and using the Ontario government’s estimate
of 50,000 projected jobs over six years, they calculate $179,000 in subsidies per job created.84
This is associated with a premium paid per tonne of GHG offset relative to natural-gas power
generation, which they estimate at $177 per tonne.
Also evaluating the Green Energy Act is the Ontario Task Force of Competitiveness,
Productivity and Economic Progress’ Ninth Annual Report. The report states the government’s
estimate of green jobs is unclear, as the government “has not offered a definition of green jobs
nor a transparent calculation of the 50,000 result.” The task force calculates the annual cost per
new green job is about $42,000. Based on a fifteen-year project lifetime, the cost per job is
$630,000.
To provide some perspective, it is useful to compare these green job costs to other subsidy
programs, such as the federal Economic Action Plan. According to the Government of
Canada’s report on the Economic Action Plan, 248,000 jobs were created or maintained by the
action plan. Table 6 displays the cost per job for different components of the plan. The job
creation costs of Ontario’s Green Energy Act are similar to the costs of the federal program.
TABLE 6:
ECONOMIC ACTION PLAN COST PER JOB
Action Plan Element
Reducing the Tax Burden for Canadians
Helping the Unemployed
Building Infrastructure to Create Jobs
Advancing Canada’s Knowledge
Economy and Creating Better Jobs
Supporting Industries and Communities
Total
Million Dollars
(March 2011)
Jobs Created
or Maintained
(March 2011)
Cost per Job
(dollars)
6,288
8,477
21,794
24,000
33,000
96,000
262,000
256,878
227,070
5,463
18,730
60,752
28,000
68,000
248,000
195,107
275,441
244,967
A CEPOS (Center for Political Studies) study evaluates the wind-powered electricity
generation industry in Denmark.85 It estimates 2,800 new jobs as a result of subsidies, and a
subsidy of US$90,000 to US$140,000 ($102,778 to $159,877 in Canadian dollars) per job per
year.86 In addition, it calculated that reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from the wind
industry are 2.4 million tons per year, with an average cost of US$124 ($142 Canadian) per
ton. This is substantially higher than the current price for permits on the European emissions
trading market.
18
84
Benjamin Dachis and Jan Carr, “Zapped: The High Cost of Ontario’s Renewable Electricity Subsidies.”
85
Center for Politiske Studier, “Wind Energy: The Case of Denmark,” 2009,
http://www.cepos.dk/fileadmin/user_upload/Arkiv/PDF/Wind_energy_-_the_case_of_Denmark.pdf.
86
Currency conversion to Canadian dollars was using the Bank of Canada’s 2009 annual average exchange rates,
available at http://www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/exchange/exchange-rates-in-pdf/.
Frondel et al. evaluated Germany’s feed-in-tariff for renewable electricity generation, which is
commonly associated with green-job creation.87 Under this system, utilities are obligated to
accept the delivery of power from renewable producers, and pay a technology-specific tariff
above the production cost. Frondel et al. calculate abatement costs of €716 ($1,135) per ton of
CO2 for photovoltaic electricity production, and €54 ($86) per ton for wind-generated
electricity. For the photovoltaic industry, based on a subsidy/net cost of €8.4 billion ($13.3
billion), and 48,000 workers, the cost of the feed-in-tariff program is estimated at €175,000
($277,463) per worker.
Addressing the question of cost-effectiveness of green programs in terms of jobs created in the
field of direct carbon dioxide management, Frondel et al. state:
“There are much cheaper ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions than subsidizing
renewable energies. CO2 abatement costs of PV are estimated to be as high as 716
€ (US $1,050) per tonne, while those of wind power are estimated at 54 € (US
$80) per tonne. By contrast, the current price of emissions certificates on the
European emissions trading scheme is only 13.4 Euro per tonne. Hence, the cost
from emission reductions as determined by the market is about 53 times cheaper
than employing PV and 4 times cheaper than using wind power.”
IS GREEN REALLY “GREEN”?
In spite of the myriad programs, initiatives and reports, the definition of “green job” remains
elusive. The range of jobs that can be considered in this category is wide and, depending on
outlook or incentive, can basically describe any job today if the qualifications are broad
enough. The myriad number of definitions further complicates any classification attempt, as
green jobs under one definition are “dirty” under others.88
To illustrate the point, the Worldwatch report offers this not-so-subtle distinction on green jobs,
saying:
“Technological and systemic choices offer varying degrees of environmental benefit
and different types of green employment. Pollution prevention has different
implications than pollution control, as does climate mitigation compared with
adaptation, efficient buildings vis-à-vis retrofits, or public transit versus fuelefficient automobiles. These choices suggest that there are ‘shades of green’ in
employment: some are more far-reaching and transformational than others.”
19
87
Manuel Frondel, Nolan Ritter, Christoph M. Schmidt and Colin Vance, “Economic Impacts from the Promotion of
Renewable Energy Technologies: The German Experience,” Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für
Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI), Ruhr Economic Papers 156, 2009.
88
Classic examples of this are whether nuclear or large-scale hydro can be considered green.
“Traditional” Measures
Slaper and Krause note there are two general ways to measure green jobs: a production-based
approach, which reflects green business activities, and a jobs-based measure.89 The authors
note two difficulties with the production approach: 1) most industries produce green and nongreen goods and services, so making distinctions is difficult; and 2) industries that use green
inputs and processes in the production of non-green products and services are not necessarily
green.90
Slaper and Krause further split these jobs measures into two approaches: an industry approach
and an occupational approach. The industry approach counts all jobs at firms that produce
green jobs or services, while the occupational approach counts jobs that make production
greener, regardless of the output of the firm. Slaper and Krause outline differences in job
counts based on the industry approach versus the occupational approach for Oregon, Michigan
and Washington, and also find substantial differences in occupational counts for different
green-job areas. For instance, some occupational counts may be biased by affiliation with
primarily “green services.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics uses two similar approaches for measuring green jobs:
(1) the output approach, which identifies establishments that produce green goods and services
and counts the associated jobs, and (2) the process approach, which identifies establishments
that use environmentally friendly production processes and practices and counts the associated
jobs. The output approach identifies jobs related to producing a certain set of goods and
services, such as solar panels. The process approach identifies “activities and associated jobs
that favorably impact the environment although the product or service produced is itself not
‘green.’”91
The definition used by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is likely the most comprehensive
and data-driven; it is based on the Green Goods and Services Survey and the Occupational
Employment Statistics Survey. The definition offered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
(BLS) is that green jobs are:92
A. Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or
conserve natural resources.
B. Jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes
more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.
20
89
Timothy F. Slaper and Ryan A. Krause, “The Green Economy: What Does Green Mean?” Indiana Business Review
84, 3 (2009) 10–13.
90
Of course, that argument can also be used to say that an industry that uses non-green products and services in the
production of green goods and services is not necessarily green, either.
91
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Overall approach to measuring green jobs.”
92
United States Federal Register, Notices, v. 75, n. 182.
Green jobs in the U.S. are generally measured using the output approach. The Bureau of Labor
Statistics also provides a detailed breakdown of industries where green goods and services are
classified, by six-digit NAICS code. In the final definition, there are 333 industries that fall
into five categories. The categories are: energy from renewable resources (58); energy
efficiency (140); pollution reduction and removal, greenhouse gas reduction, and recycling and
reuse (124); natural resource conservation (75); and environmental compliance, education and
training, and public awareness (45).93
An Alternative Definition
The definitions offered in the literature and in practice are informally and formally
inconsistent, and consequently provide little guidance for policy-makers. The green
classification appears to be at least partially arbitrary. For instance, using the “industry
approach” advanced by Slaper and Krause, a plant that manufactures solar panels but uses
coal-based electricity is considered green.94 Moreover, an accountant who works at the same
plant is a green employee, but an accountant performing the same services to some other
manufacturing company is not green. In considering the occupational approach, an accountant
who performs all work electronically (and hence does not waste paper) is a green employee.
Bezdek et al. measure the size of the environmental-protection sector in the U.S. and find that
the vast majority of jobs in the environmental-protection industry are standard, and that even
within environmental companies the majority of employees are not classified as environmental
specialists.95 A case in point is that the occupational job description of “a typical wind turbine
manufacturing company” that is essentially the same as that of a company manufacturing other
(non-green) products.
Most industries, firms and employees have access to or utilize some range of green and nongreen inputs and production processes. As a consequence, output from a given firm can
simultaneously be green and non-green depending on the perspective of the observer. As an
alternative to the current interest in promoting green industries and practice, we suggest that
the most important metric and test is the energy used in the production of a good, and the
amount of greenhouse gases emitted as a by-product. That is, energy intensity and greenhouse
gas emission intensity are the most important to measure and track. Reducing energy use and
GHG emissions, while keeping output constant, can be good for the environment and improve
productivity as well. This is an appropriate measure of greenness in a firm, industry and
economy. The added benefit is that it provides a simple, non-arbitrary yardstick with which to
measure performance.
We avoid the issue of “what is a green job” by considering dirty inputs (energy) and dirty
outputs (greenhouse gas emissions) to evaluate the relative “greenness” of Canadian industries.
Statistics Canada publishes annual data on energy use (direct), greenhouse gas emissions
(direct), energy intensity (direct and indirect), and greenhouse gas emission intensity (direct
and indirect) by industry according to the System of National Accounts. Ranking industries by
energy intensity and GHG emission intensity, we can construct the relative “greenness” of each
industry, in terms of its environmental damage per dollar of output.
21
93
See http://www.bls.gov/green/ for the full list of industries.
94
Slaper and Krause, “The Green Economy: What Does Green Mean?”
95
Bezdek, Wendling and DiPerna, “Environmental Protection, the Economy and Jobs.”
RELATIVE “GREENNESS” OF CANADIAN INDUSTRIES
Energy use and greenhouse gas emissions are two different ways of evaluating the relative
greenness of Canadian industries. While not all emissions are due to energy use, the U.S.
Energy Information Administration estimates 86 per cent of U.S. GHGs are related to energy
consumption.96 As energy is an input into production, looking at energy use and energy
intensity (energy use per dollar of output) provides a gauge of relative greenness from the input
side. Energy intensity also tells us the energy cost per unit of output.
While examining the energy use of different Canadian industries is informative for evaluating
relative dirtiness, what policy-makers are truly concerned about are greenhouse gas emissions.
This has driven the current infatuation with green jobs: the desire to reduce pollution while still
maintaining employment. Examining greenhouse gas emissions and emissions intensity allows
us to evaluate the pollution cost per unit of output across industries.
We start by examining energy use; Statistics Canada infers GHG emissions from energy-use
data, calculating emissions per quantity of various forms of energy and combining with data on
energy use by industry. Thus, analyzing energy use is a good starting point before moving on
to emissions.
Energy Use and Energy Intensity
Table 7 displays energy use by the 18 System of National Accounts (SNA) sectors of the
Canadian economy. There are four large energy-using sectors accounting for 73 per cent of
energy use in 2008: Manufacturing, Utilities, Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction, and
Warehousing and Transportation. In 2008, these four sectors accounted for only 33 per cent of
Canada’s total output (in 2008 dollars). The “cleanest” sector is Educational Services,
accounting for 0.001 per cent of total energy use (and just two per cent of the Canadian
economy).
96
22
U.S. Energy Information Administration, Energy in Brief, “What are greenhouse gases and how much are emitted by
the United States?”, http://www.eia.gov/energy_in_brief/article/greenhouse_gas.cfm.
TABLE 7:
ENERGY USE BY SECTOR (2008)
Sector
Energy Use
(terajoules)
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
Share of Total
Energy Use97
Change in Energy
Use Since 1990
(%)
232,173
0.03
4.61
Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction
1,316,017
0.16
38.35
Utilities
1,678,624
0.21
27.17
Construction
Manufacturing
Wholesale Trade
Retail Trade
Warehousing and Transportation
Information and Cultural Industries
170,896
0.02
37.92
1,938,116
0.24
-3.01
211,931
0.03
43.27
198,008
0.02
7.14
1,052,797
0.13
27.58
28,968
0.00
-1.55
438,375
0.05
31.45
41,419
0.01
53.55
51,630
7,214
60,627
15,235
62,782
56,789
0.01
0.00
0.01
0.00
0.01
0.01
23.73
50.42
52.67
22.60
-4.90
35.68
Government Services
453,154
0.06
16.35
Non-Profit Institutions
84,877
0.01
48.93
FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate)
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
Administrative and Support,
Waste Management and Remediation Services
Educational Services
Health Care and Social Assistance
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation
Accommodation and Food Services
Other Services
Operating, Office, Cafeteria and
Laboratory Supplies
Source: Authors’ calculations from Statistics Canada CANSIM Tables 153-0031.
Table 7 also shows that, not surprisingly, energy use has increased in the 18 years for which
data is available, in some cases substantially. What is surprising is that three sectors —
manufacturing, information and cultural industries, and accommodation and food services —
all had decreases in energy use. Of course, this is only truly noteworthy if output increased or
decreased less than energy use.
In addition to total energy use, it is useful to understand how effectively each sector is using its
energy inputs — the sector’s energy intensity, or energy use per dollar of output. There are two
ways to measure energy intensity. The first, direct energy intensity, is simply energy used by a
sector (or industry) in production divided by the value of output in that sector. Direct-plusindirect energy intensity takes into account the energy used to produce intermediate inputs that
are then used to produce the final output of that sector. Energy intensity using both methods is
reported in Table 8.
97
23
Total Canadian energy use includes the business sector, non-business sector (government and non-profits) and
household energy use. In calculating energy-use shares, we exclude household energy use.
We see in Table 8 that the four highest-energy-using sectors are also among the most energy
intensive. When considering only direct energy intensity, there are clear “dirty” sectors —
utilities, warehousing and transportation, and mining and oil and gas extraction — with
intensities far above the other sectors, especially in the case of utilities. However, accounting for
indirect energy use substantially changes the ranking. Utilities still have the highest intensity, but
manufacturing and the agricultural sector have intensities similar to the oil and gas sector.
TABLE 8:
ENERGY INTENSITY BY SECTOR (2008)
Sector
Direct Energy
Intensity
(GJ/
thousand $)
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction
Utilities
Construction
Manufacturing
Wholesale Trade
Retail Trade
Warehousing and Transportation
Information and Cultural Industries
FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate)
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
Administrative and Support, Waste
Management and Remediation Services
Educational Services
Health Care and Social Assistance
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation
Accommodation and Food Services
Other Services
Operating, Office, Cafeteria and
Laboratory Supplies
Government Services
Non-Profit Institutions
Change in
Direct
Intensity Since
1990 (%)
Direct plus
Change in D+I
Indirect Energy Intensity Since
Intensity
1990 (%)
(GJ/
thousand $)
3.38
6.29
34.74
0.66
3.09
1.57
1.51
8.14
0.33
1.08
0.35
-32.02
-4.72
-9.41
3.60
-51.71
-31.87
-85.17
-28.51
-155.34
-28.15
-42.06
9.37
8.31
36.70
4.94
10.18
4.08
3.72
12.98
2.62
2.61
2.24
-30.96
-2.12
-9.67
-11.72
-43.86
-32.53
-76.60
-19.70
-55.71
-29.41
-12.82
0.93
1.70
1.17
0.72
0.96
1.47
-59.11
2.73
3.34
3.13
3.59
4.15
3.87
-34.42
1.22
2.58
24.16
-68.12
-47.27
-40.76
17.00
-24.34
-25.30
-4.03
9.02
3.46
5.04
Source: Authors’ calculations from Statistics Canada CANSIM Tables 153-0031, 153-0032 and 281-0009.
Energy intensity is deflated using sector-specific output price indices.
Another consideration in evaluating the greenness of industries is the improvement in energy
intensity over time. Energy use has, in general, increased since 1990 and, while energy
intensity has improved, for many industries the improvement in energy intensity was not
sufficient to offset the increase in energy use. Of particular note is the mining and oil and gas
sector, which had a 38-per-cent increase in energy use since 1990 and only a two-per-cent
decrease in energy intensity.
While Table 8 displays sector aggregations, the high energy intensity of the agriculture sector
does call into question the “greenness” of organic farming, an industry promoted by many
green jobs proponents. On the other hand, the agricultural sector ranked sixth in terms of
improving direct-plus-indirect energy intensity.
24
Greenhouse Gas Emissions and GHG Emission Intensity
GHG emissions can be used as a metric to further refine and evaluate the “greenness” of
Canadian industries. As Statistics Canada calculates greenhouse gas emissions based on energy
use, we expect the results to be similar.98 Table 9 displays greenhouse gas emissions by SNA
sector. As with energy use, the sectors with the largest footprint are utilities, mining and oil and
gas extraction, and manufacturing. What distinguishes Table 9 from Table 7 is the fact that the
agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector was the fifth-largest producer of emissions in
2008, producing substantially more than the next largest, wholesale trade.
TABLE 9:
GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS BY SECTOR (2008)
Sector
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction
Utilities
Construction
Manufacturing
Wholesale Trade
Retail Trade
Warehousing and Transportation
Information and Cultural Industries
FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate)
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
Administrative and Support, Waste
Management and Remediation Services
Educational Services
Health Care and Social Assistance
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation
Accommodation and Food Services
Other Services
Operating, Office, Cafeteria and
Laboratory Supplies
Government Services
Non-Profit Institutions
GHG Emissions
(kilotonnes)
Share of Total
GHG Emissions99
Change in GHG
Emissions Since
1990 (%)
72,703
120,656
118,582
12,403
110,553
11,763
7,953
76,074
1,130
19,029
1,920
0.123
0.204
0.201
0.021
0.187
0.020
0.013
0.129
0.002
0.032
0.003
16.42
35.11
20.82
39.45
-10.82
40.02
6.85
27.17
-19.73
30.67
55.21
3,162
311
2,352
338
1,914
2,387
0.005
0.001
0.004
0.001
0.003
0.004
25.84
54.34
54.29
30.77
-22.10
28.15
18,331
2,896
0.031
0.005
16.14
57.63
Source: Authors’ calculations from Statistics Canada CANSIM Table 153-0033.
Table 9 also reports the changes in greenhouse gas emissions over time, which are positive,
except for the three industries where energy use decreased. By this measure, the majority of
Canadian industries are becoming dirtier. Emissions intensity tells us the pollution cost per
dollar of output, and evaluating the change in emissions intensity over time gives us a sense of
the relative greening of Canadian industries.
25
98
Statistics Canada infers GHG emissions from energy-use data in the Materials and Energy Flow Accounts.
Specifically, emissions per quantity of various forms of energy is calculated and combined with data on energy use
by industry. The data on energy use used to calculate emissions includes 10 energy commodities: coal, natural gas,
liquid petroleum gases, electricity, coke, motor gasoline, diesel fuel, aviation fuel, light fuel oil and heavy fuel oil.
99
Total Canadian greenhouse gas emissions include emissions from the business sector, non-business sector
(government and non-profits) and household emissions. In calculating GHG emission shares, we exclude households.
In terms of greenhouse gas emission intensity (reported in Table 10), the utilities sector is by
far the dirtiest, with direct and indirect intensity 44-per-cent higher than the agricultural sector,
the sector with the next-highest intensity. Comparing emission intensity creates a clear ranking
of dirty versus clean. Figure 3 displays the intensity comparison graphically.
FIGURE 3:
GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSION INTENSITY BY SECTOR (2008)
3.00
2.50
2.00
1.50
1.00
1.00
0.50
0.00 ,
s
s
s
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h
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e
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ar
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ar
r
er
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h C , En mm
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l
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Pr mini
ng
ati
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Ad
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Op
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us
g&
&
ion
Cu
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Direct Intensity
Direct & Indirect Intensity
Source: Authors’ calculations from Statistics Canada CANSIM Tables 153-0033, 153-0034 and 281-0009. GHG
intensity is deflated using sector-specific output price indices.
Figure 3 reflects the importance of considering direct-plus-indirect intensity — that is,
including emissions associated with intermediate inputs used in producing final outputs. ECO
Canada, in its survey of Canadian environmental employment, identifies industries with the
highest concentrations of environmental employment.100 The agricultural sector is 11-per-cent
environmental employment, and construction is eight-per-cent environmental employment.
Though it has the highest concentration of environmental employment, the agricultural sector
is one of Canada’s dirtiest in terms of greenhouse gas emission intensity (ranked second) and
energy intensity (ranked fourth).
100
26
Environmental Careers Organization (ECO) Canada, “Profile of Canadian Environmental Employment.”
TABLE 10:
GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSION INTENSITY BY SECTOR
Sector
Direct GHG
Intensity
(tonnes/
thousand $)
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction
Utilities
Construction
Manufacturing
Wholesale Trade
Retail Trade
Warehousing and Transportation
Information and Cultural Industries
FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate)
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
Administrative and Support, Waste
Management and Remediation Services
Educational Services
Health Care and Social Assistance
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation
Accommodation and Food Services
Other Services
Operating, Office, Cafeteria and
Laboratory Supplies
Government Services
Non-Profit Institutions
Change in
Direct plus
Direct
Indirect GHG
Intensity Since
Intensity
1990 (%)
(tonnes/
thousand $)
Change in D+I
Intensity Since
1990 (%)
1.06
0.58
2.45
0.05
0.18
0.09
0.06
0.59
0.01
0.05
0.02
-15.69
-10.21
-18.95
5.98
-63.23
-39.43
-85.74
-29.24
-201.06
-29.61
-54.72
1.81
0.72
2.61
0.36
0.73
0.26
0.21
0.94
0.15
0.15
0.14
-21.36
-6.86
-19.62
-18.04
-53.32
-38.43
-81.41
-21.68
-62.29
-33.86
-12.18
0.06
0.07
0.05
0.02
0.03
0.06
-36.97
0.18
0.18
0.18
0.21
0.34
0.22
-36.45
0.05
0.09
26.76
-50.38
-71.42
-57.22
11.63
-24.53
-30.21
-14.53
0.63
0.20
0.26
Source: Authors’ calculations from Statistics Canada CANSIM Tables 153-0033, 153-0034 and 281-0009.
GHG intensity is deflated using sector-specific output price indices.
Turning to changes in emission intensity, we see that the majority of sectors experienced large
improvements in emission intensity since 1990. The five dirtiest sectors, however, had
improvements lower than the 16-sector average of 29 per cent. If this trend continues, the gap
between “dirty” and “non-dirty” sectors in Canada will continue to grow.
However, in absolute terms, a reduction of 19.6 per cent, from an emissions intensity of 3.12 in
1990 to an emissions intensity of 2.61 for the utilities sector, is far more significant than the
reduction of 62.3 per cent in the information and cultural industries. What matters for the
significance of improvements is not just the percentage decrease in emissions intensity, but also
the starting point. Based on this amount of relative greening, it is highly likely that the utilities
sector created far more green jobs than many of the other Canadian sectors.
27
SIGNIFICANCE AND CONCLUSIONS
This paper has focused on the issue of so-called “green jobs” and their value in contrast to
other jobs in the economy. Although gaining in popular use, both as a marketing and policy
category, the concept of “green jobs” seems to be primarily definitional rather than functional
in practice. It is not codified into tax or occupational codes in North America, a normal
approbation of validity. What we find is that the range of definition is large, and often depends
on the nature and objectives of the entity seeking to frame or bound the characterization of
such jobs within any given economic sector. Additionally, green jobs or occupations typically
fall across different traditional industry definitions, making them difficult to quantify
consistently.
Does the definition matter in the end? For the purposes of calculating green jobs per subsidy or
the efficacy of different programs, perhaps. However, the danger here is confounding goals:
The best possible environmental policy may be at odds with “green job” creation. As
technology choices have illustrated in the past, government intervention in risks and rewards
has a tendency to miss changes over time, and to introduce and reinforce a lack of flexibility
into industry. Linking job creation to environmental policy may distort the ultimate policy
goals of environmental impact mitigation.
Given the limitations in measurement, we recommend that policy-makers move the focus away
from measuring “green employment” and instead focus on associated greenhouse gas
emissions and emission intensity, a concept that will allow a more-uniform comparison and
measurement. This allows interested parties to evaluate the greening of industries over time, as
well as relative to each other. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a far better environmental
policy than counting and using green jobs as a measure of environmental performance.
This is not to suggest there is no value in using the “green” designation. In the Demand Side
Management efforts of many jurisdictions, changes in consumer behaviour can be closely
traced to a desire to conform to social norms and standards. Further, given the problems of
climate change, economies can benefit from “greening”, but need a baseline for monitoring and
tracking changes over time. Greenhouse gas emission intensity provides this metric. Indeed, we
found the majority of Canadian industries improved their emissions intensity between 1990 and
2008, with the “dirtiest” industries showing the largest absolute improvement.
28
About the Authors
Michal C. Moore, (PhD) is an economist and Professor of Energy Economics at The School of Public Policy at the University of
Calgary.
He is the former chief economist at the U.S. National Renewable Laboratory in Golden Colorado, where he led a research
team engaged in examining over-the-horizon issues for the U.S. Department of Energy and developing new methods for
cross-cutting analysis. He is an economist and a former commissioner with the California Energy Commission, where he
held the designated economist position.
Jennifer Winter, (PhD) is a Research Associate in the Energy and Environmental Policy at The School of Public Policy. Her research
is focused on the effects of government regulation on the development of natural resources. Jennifer has authored several research
papers for The School, including two on Canadian energy literacy. Prior to joining The School, she worked at Human Resources and
Skills Development Canada in Ottawa, analysing Canadian labour markets.
29
ABOUT THE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY
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http://policyschool.ucalgary.ca/?q=content/diplomacy-globalization-and-heteropolarity-challenge-adaptation
Daryl Copeland | August 2013
UNHEALTHY PRESSURE: HOW PHYSICIAN PAY DEMANDS PUT THE SQUEEZ E ON PROVINCIAL HEALTH-CARE
BUDGETS
http://policyschool.ucalgary.ca/?q=content/unhealthy-pressure-how-physician-pay-demands-put-squeezeprovincial-health-care-budgets
Hugh M. Grant and Jeremiah Hurley | July 2013
TRENDS, PEAKS, AND TROUGHS: NATIONAL AND REGIONAL EMPLOYMENT CYCLES IN CANADA
http://policyschool.ucalgary.ca/?q=content/trends-peaks-and-troughs-national-and-regional-employmentcycles-canada
Ronald Kneebone and Margarita Gres | July 2013
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